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recommendation letter review

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An old friend and doctor offered to write a recommendation for me. SHe drafted it then sent to me asking for feedback. I am not sure how to respond other than I really appreciate her kind words and generosity.


I would like to post the criteria the school is looking for and her letter. Any thought syou might have on the effectiveness of the recommendation or feedback that I might offer is appreciated.



From the school:

  • Leadership
  • Professionalism (maturity)
  • Enthusiasm
  • Trustworthy
  • Honesty
  • Motivation
  • Confidence
  • Tolerance
  • Altruism
  • Goal-orientated
  • Self-directed
  • Team player

Because personal attributes are not reflected in the application form, these factors must be reflected in:

  • Your Personal Statement
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • The Interview

In order to get credit, personal attributes should be justified with specific examples or artifacts, such as a newspaper account. For example, it is not adequate to say, “I am a leader.” Candidates should demonstrate their leadership through specific examples. Likewise, recommendations should not say, “The candidate is enthusiastic.” Instead, the evaluator can give specific examples of how a candidate demonstrated his or her enthusiasm.



The letter: ( I omitted my name and her's. Occassionally I substituted ... for a name)


To Whom It May Concern:<O:p</O:p

….is an exceptionally qualified candidate for your Physician’s Assistant program, and it is an honour to write this letter of reference for her. For decades, my respect for …. has run deep. I’ve served as her school principal, where Ariel’s intelligence, kindness, independence and resilience shone, have written college reference letters, and offered a tribute at her wedding, as she did at mine. Although I have witnessed her integrity, motivation, and loving kindness for many years, a few examples may bring light to the depth of her commitment to service as well as to her compassionate nature and strength of character.


……has been a lifelong humanitarian. As a thoughtful teenager, she brought me roses the day before I wrote the MCAT exams; I deeply appreciated her encouragement. A few years later, she participated in the entire 1995 peace walk from Auschwitz to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com><st1:City w:st=Hiroshima</ST1:p</st1:City>, where her natural leadership and care giving skills blossomed. One particularly stressful night in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><ST1:place Cambodia</ST1:p</st1:country-region> found her bandaging the blistered feet of Buddhist nuns. After her return to the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><ST1:pU.S.,</ST1:p</st1:country-region> she spoke on behalf of landmine victims to the National Security Council at the White House. During her years of directing <st1:State w:st="on"><ST1:pVermont</ST1:p</st1:State> social welfare programs as a professional mediator, she facilitated reconciliation between victims of crime and the perpetrators. Her maturity is also evident as she skillfully raises her sons with loving patience.


…..’s lifelong social justice activism contains countless examples of her motivated self-direction, enthusiastic perseverance, leadership and teamwork, as well as her ability to maintain equanimity in stressful circumstances. In addition to co-facilitating mediation workshops, she has taught photography to inner city youth, and written a powerful chapter in the book that chronicles the peace walk commemorating the 50<SUP>th</SUP> anniversary of the bombing of <st1:City w:st="on"><ST1:pHiroshima</ST1:p</st1:City>. Her global perspective and multi-cultural experience inspires her ability to establish rapport with virtually everyone she meets, and her communication skills are profound.


I have deep confidence that she will be a superbly capable and compassionate health care provider. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like further information.




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Letter sounds great! I'm a little confused though.. did this person work with you.. or they were your school principle? The letter writer sounds like they know you and what you've done, but it sounds like she was not present while those things went on. Just a thought.

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Yes. She was the principal of my school when I was a teenager. We have maintained a friendship for nearly 30 years now. While she did not travel with me or particpate in my work life she is well aquainted with it they way a close friend or relative might be.



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  • 1 year later...

You say the letter writer is a doctor? Became MD/DO after being a school principal or has a different type of doctorate? It does sound more like a personal letter and as the above person stated, schools prefer letters from professional sources. It might work though, because I kind of bent the rules (as many schools like or require at least one letter to be from a healthcare professional) and had one of my letters written by a MD whose daughter I babysat. I had one from a professor (academic focus in this letter) one from home healthcare employer (professional/work ethic focus) and one from the MD (compassionate/personality focus). I asked the MD to state that "as a healthcare professional who has employed mackjacks, I can vouch that she has the personality and drive to succeed in this field"

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  • 5 years later...


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